Here is what I wrote for my family history writing group yesterday, about an ancestor of my husband:
My name is Sarah Colgate I was born in 1855 in a village much like Bletchingley, called Lidgate. My dear father was Robert Day and my mother was Susan… she died after having my little brother James, leaving Dad to look after my sister Lizzie, me and baby Jimmy… but our family was in a sorry state already by then. We had left our lovely little village with its pretty church where my sister and I were baptised, and we had moved to London and what a terrible place it was, so dirty, so noisy, so busy.
It was hard for my dad with us three children but I helped Lizzie and him as much as I could. We were pleased when Dad married Eliza, but it was hard to call her ‘mother’. We moved again, away from the dirt and the stinks and we moved to Bletchingley, where I live to this day. It reminded me of Lidgate where I was born, even the church where dad and Mother married and where Lizzie and I were baptised was named for the Holy Virgin Mary.
I couldn’t stay here long, a position was found for me back near London, in Willesden as a maid in a nice house. The house belonged to Mr. and Mrs Stanton who were very kind to me and I worked hard for them, looking after their three little children and Mrs Stanton’s old mother. There was a cook and she was very kind too… I often think of my poor father and little Jimmy and my new little half-sisters, Alice and Emily, and their baby brother Robert. On my afternoon off I went to visit Lizzie who was working in Marylebone in Mr. and Mrs Greatback’s house. I have never been in, but Lizzie tells me it is lovely, and the other servants are very nice and her life is quite happy.
On a visit to Dad I met a very tall and handsome man with a magnificent moustache, John Colgate, and although we did not see each other very often, he was so agreeable and kind and when he told me he loved me, well, how happy I was because I loved him too! It was really a marriage made in heaven and I have been so lucky and have had a wonderful life with my dear husband – we will have been married for fifty years soon! Who can believe it? We had five beautiful children, Alice, Annie, Ernest and Edith… it nearly broke my heart when my baby, little Edith died when she was hardly more than a babe, just two years old.
However, I was so glad to be living in Bletchingley, near John’s family. Lizzie was home too and also married, and we saw Dad every day and my little brother and sisters, but poor Dad, tragedy struck again and our step-mother Eliza died. I think he was broken by this and he moved to Reigate and although we tried to visit, with our large families and busy lives it was difficult. Later I found out he was in the workhouse, he hadn’t told us, no doubt too ashamed. I cannot say where my half-sisters and brother were, and it shames me I didn’t do more to find them but our lives were busy and we fell on hard times too.
I tried to visit the workhouse once, but was told he was twenty miles away in Guildford, too far for me to travel… I believe he may have died there, but no-one ever told us.
I thank God each Sunday in our little village church for my good life, and my dear husband, my children and grandchildren, and I pray for my dear mother and my poor dear father, Robert Day.
© Lois Elsden 2018